Maryland parish offers regular “White Mass” named for St. Lawrence, to support “people with different abilities”


There’s a quiet room at St. Aloysius Church in Leonardtown named after St. Lawrence. The story of St. Lawrence’s martyrdom helps underscore the reason for the room and the impetus for a growing community-based program in Southern Maryland that is touching the lives of people with “developmental differences.”

The story of St. Lawrence will come shortly. But first we set the stage for the story about Southern Maryland Community Resources (SOMDCR) with the words of Cardinal Donald Wuerl:

“Each one of us in our own individuality, in our own uniqueness, not only manifests the glory of God, but because we are who we are, we actually bless and praise the Lord. All of us are highly prized, uniquely made individuals. God sees each of us but he also sees us together as the masterpiece of his creation reflecting his glory.”

Cardinal Wuerl’s words were part of his homily delivered last year at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, DC at his fourth annual White Mass, which honors the gifts of all persons with disabilities and those with mental health challenges.

The Archdiocese of Washington includes all three Southern Maryland counties.

Bonnie Elward, a long-time advocate in the community for people with disabilities, heard about Cardinal Wuerl’s “Special Needs Ministry” and approached Rev. John Dakes, then pastor of St. Aloysius Church, about starting a local White Mass. From that small seed sown locally has grown a field of dreams for area adults who many label disabled but others call just “people with different abilities,” which in a real way describes each and every one of us.

That leads us back to St. Lawrence…

Read more about why this ministry is connected to the sainted deacon.